White Farm, Brown Socks
Frederick White Farm Trails, Durham
I like a good farm hike. I really like a good farm hike when the trails are well maintained. At the White Farm in Durham, the town does the best they can with what they have.
They certainly can’t help that many of the trails are low-lying and it’s been an exceptionally wet year. Even so, this is still a fun place to walk around, and unique in one way…
The property is literally on the same patch of land that the annual Durham Fair occupies each September. In theory, a fair goer could walk the paths to burn off their gross fair food in the middle of their fair experience. Just walk out of the fair and head behind the fencing and find and path and you’re good to go.
The 110-acre property underwent a transformation in 2013 to restore it to what it is today. The town had basically let it fall apart, and invasives took over, making it nearly impenetrable. Not only that, Allyn Brook had filled in with silt and half the place was flooded all the time.
The only solution here was for the DEEP to use vehicles with names like Marsh Master II and Crawler Carriers to actually create a new brook across the back of the property. I imagine that took a lot of paperwork, as rerouting and creating streams is a big ecological and environmental deal.
This land has been Durham’s since 1965 when the White family sold it to the town. (I’ve often written that it’s usually town-owned property trails that are the most neglected, while the largely volunteer organizations like land trusts and CFPA have the best trails. White Farm certainly fit the bill for a long, long time. Heck, see my page on Durham’s Curtis Woodland for example.)
Durham said in 2013, “Going forward…we will put together a maintenance plan so that those that come after us won’t have to be here doing a similar project of this magnitude in the future.”
Ten years after that statement, it still rings true, so hats off to Durham. There’s a nice little parking area and a few benches and the trails were mowed and the stream was within its bounds for the most part. Some clubs like model rocketry enthusiasts have gatherings here, so I guess there’s a constant call to keep the place tidy.
As I began walking, another guy exited his car in hip-high mud boots. I didn’t pay him much mind, but ten minutes later I realized he was way smarter than I am.
The trails nearest the brooks were not worth traversing all the way to their end for me, as I had a long day ahead of me and didn’t feel like doing so covered in wet mud above my ankles. This isn’t something the town can “fix” or even abate in any way. This is just what happens on flat farm trails along brooks. There’s certainly no point in building bridges here.
I walked as much as I could around the whole property and enjoyed the open spaces and the view into the Durham Fair, months after its lights were turned off and rides driven to the next town. I appreciate that Durham has kept up with the maintenance of White Farm and its clearly being utilized by locals for bird watching, strolling, and all sorts of other activities.